Experts state: Wearing a mask as a social norm will prevent further closure

With the advent of “pandemic fatigue” – a phenomenon of declining motivation to adhere to rules of conduct after months of dealing with an epidemic and in light of the forecast that it will continue and unclear until, emphasizes a team of multidisciplinary experts including researchers and professionals in public health, medicine, education and communication. The need to wear a mask as a regular habit, as an effective social norm that will prevent closure and being a better means of protecting against corona infection. The team also presented in a document that distributed what types of masks should be worn and what are the ways to encourage mask wearing at a national and local level.

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The corona pandemic that has been raging in the world for more than 11 months – and a year since the virus first emerged from China and spread rapidly around the world – has taken a toll on health, mental, economic and social. In light of all this, there is a need to encourage people to be careful and persistent in maintaining behavioral tools to prevent the spread of the disease, the authors of the document noted. Among international health organizations and professional bodies in Israel, there is now a widespread agreement that wearing a mask is an important and effective means both at the personal level and at the national level to prevent infection in the corona, combined with maintaining physical distance, avoiding crowds, good ventilation in rooms and maintaining personal hygiene.

Although according to many recent surveys most respondents answer that they wear masks, the actual behavior, in the public space and more than once in an enclosed space where many people gather, indicates that they still have to deal and in a better way than has been taken so far with an important challenge: Masks in such a way that they will optimally protect against the spread of the virus.

Incomplete and incorrect information about the benefit of wearing the mask

The document points to a number of challenges: inefficient masking – for example one made of unsuitable materials; Or inefficient coating – due to improper use or reuse.

The public has incomplete or even incorrect information about the benefit of wearing the mask, the authors of the document state. Even after many months of the outbreak of the epidemic people lack information on where and when it is important to wear a mask, how to properly remove and remove it. People have feelings of physical and psychological discomfort when they wear masks in situations where they are meant to talk to other people.

The authors of the document also note that 48% of the public in Israel believe that the feeling of difficulty breathing when wearing a mask is the main reason for not wearing it. Many point out that a mask of psychological fatigue is caused by wearing a mask; Different populations have different perceptions about what is acceptable and what is the accepted norm in the context of wearing a mask.

“To stop the spread of the virus, a large percentage of the public must wear a mask. According to the researchers, only if at least four out of five people wear a mask when they come in contact with others will we see a decrease in infection and other restrictions, including further closure.”

Although the public hears daily about the importance of wearing masks, questions still arise that are important to answer: What characterizes this virus and why, even though it is so tiny, wearing a mask can protect against its spread? What are the differences between the different masks? When to wash a cloth mask and more.

“Therefore,” the researchers write, “it is important to disseminate information that although it is a 0.1 micron respiratory virus, it is mainly carried on droplets emitted from the airways when people carrying the virus sneeze, cough and even sing and talk. These droplets can be of different sizes. Larger than 5 microns, fall to the ground within seconds to minutes at a distance of no more than 2 meters. The smaller ones, which are smaller than 5 microns – aerosols, sprays – can be found and hover in the air for a longer time – up to three hours. , The masks can contribute significantly in protection from it.

The authors also noted: Disposable masks are already becoming a very significant environmental pollutant. Recent studies suggest that surgical masks are a potential source of contaminating micro-plastic fibers in the environment. Although hundreds of millions of people around the world have been told to wear face masks, there are almost no guidelines on how to get rid of them or recycle them safely.

Economic barriers to wearing masks

The researchers identified economic barriers regarding mask wearing. For some of the population, the document wrote, the cost of masks purchased with money can be significant, so there are those who do not replace disposable masks. “Given that we have many more months ahead in which every resident will be required to wear a mask every day, the economic significance of this means of protection must be examined from the citizen’s point of view and from the state’s responsibility. There is no doubt that economic hardship, especially in families with many children. “People (parents and three children over the age of five) who want to comply with all the proper rules for wearing effective masks, will be required to spend a very high annual financial expense.”

The team of researchers calls on the Ministry of Health to monitor the prices of the masks, subsidize them especially for families with many children and set standards for the quality of the masks sold in Israel.

Experts also recommend disseminating practical and specific information about wearing masks while “avoiding clichéd passwords.” They also seek to identify and characterize what prevents people from wearing masks in different situations and provide information about applied and specific solutions that are appropriate for the community according to barriers. Also, learn what encourages people to use masks, what are the positive transformations, and use this knowledge as well as disseminate information that expresses social values, caring and concern for others – in the family, in the community, in the workplace, in public places.

The experts further recommend that it is desirable that each local authority determine the ways of disseminating information for its residents, in collaboration with the residents and based on knowledge of the local perceptions, barriers and incentives.

The document concluded: “Given the importance of wearing masks to prevent further closure, it is important for both the public and policy makers to work together to reduce and prevent the transmission of the virus. .

The team included Prof. Yoram Epstein from the Institute for Medical Research at Sheba Medical Center and the Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University; Dr. Shiran Board, Head of the Department of Health Systems Administration at Emek Yizrael Academy; Prof. Nurit Gutman of the Department of Communication at Tel Aviv University; Dr. Milka Donchin, Chair of the Health Cities Network in Israel; Dr. Ronit Yaakovovich of the School of Public Health At Tel Aviv University; Ohad Cohen Oh from the Leshama Association; Prof. Yehuda Newmark, Director of the Public Health School at the Hebrew University and Hadassah; Dr. Osnat Keidar from the School of Public Health at the Hebrew University and Hadassah and Dr. Yinon Shenkar, Director of Public Health in Community Prevention Programs and UN Adviser .